In Bed with Bitchell
What’s the Purpose of a Sex Column in a Student Newspaper?
Mitchell Sunderland ‘14
A year ago, when Brielle Weber ’14 asked the Phoenix staff if anyone wanted to write a sex column for the upcoming school year, I volunteered without really knowing why. I knew I was the only student who would likely want to write a sex column. Even though I attended a Catholic elementary school, I lack the moral compass that creates shame and reserves confessions for the confessional booth. But I still did not know why I wanted to write a sex column for a student newspaper. I read on a Kindle, and knew in recent years, students preferred to read student blogs, like SLCSpeaks. At the time, writing for The Phoenix seemed like a dated activity from one of that 20th century era Instagram filters try to replicate, yet felt like something I needed to do.
Eight months later, I now understand why I wanted to write for the paper. Brielle has reinvented the Phoenix, publishing exposes about the administration and debunking rumors, and despite print’s inevitable downfall, The Phoenix has a history. Even if previous editors refused to publish anything that might upset the administration, there was a history that prevented anyone from doubting The Phoenix’s existence. Even in the age of Kelly Oxford and Amanda Bynes 2.0, there is something magical (and stressful) about speed writing an essay to meet a print deadline and seeing something you created on paper, where you can touch it before people Instagram it to leave dirty comments.
With that said, I took on this sex column in the hope that it would spark a conversation in the Sarah Lawrence community. I thought people would e-mail me stories and volunteer to discuss their sex lives, but most people like to talk about their sex lives in a polite manner, behind proper words like penis and vagina. One girl even backed out of an interview, because she disliked my choice of words, which, in retrospect, should not have surprised me. Most Sarah Lawrence students identify as liberal, but still prefer to censor words they dislike. And if they dislike something, they are not going to even write an email to you. At best, they will sub tweet you, but more likely, they will complain about you in the TeaHaus and then not do anything about it. Sarah Lawrence: the land of apathy.
But in the end, everything worked out. I was fortunate enough to receive press releases from Internet sex girls and a letter from an NYU student who had slept with Sarah Lawrence boys suffering from golden cock syndrome. I was still able to talk about sex that was not mine, sex that crossed a variety of intellectual and gender lines. Plus, I gained value writing this column—how to write faster and balance schoolwork, freelance work, binge drinking, and extracurricular activities. More importantly, I hoped you learned something too. Even if you are too apathetic to even reply to me, I hope you are more likely to talk to a stranger about whoever came on your back last weekend. The point of this sex column was to start a discussion. But do not worry. If you are just starting to feel inspired and working up the courage to spill all of the nasty details of last Friday night’s Ménage Trios, I will be back on campus next year!
In Bed With Bitchell
Mitchell Sunderland ‘14
Cruising is Fun When You Don’t Meet the Dude on Grindr
Mitchell Sunderland ‘14
For this issue, I intended to write an article about the purpose of a student sex column and why I hate trigger warnings. I had outlined the article and started writing it, but while walking around Rome, where I am currently on vacation, to procrastinate, I saw a muscular Italian boy in a beige suit. To my surprise, he cruised me.
If you are a hetero (#nohetero) or have never studied queer history, here is a five second history of cruising; if you are LGBTQ or educated on LGBTQ issues, skip to this next paragraph. Cruising is how gay men found casual sex partners without Grindr, the iPhone app designed to help gay men meet strangers for sex. Basically, Grindr allows gays to skip the flirting process. Every conversation on Grindr looks like this:
GAY #1: Looking?
GAY #2: Yeah. You? (Occasionally, gay #2 will say “only masc4masc” because he internalized the homophobic slurs bullies shouted at him in the locker room.)
GAY #1: Yeah. Bottom and anal.
GAY #2: Cool. Top here. Where you live?
Before the internet, we gays used a different tactic to find an easy lay. We wandered public spaces frequented by gay men, exchanging glances with strangers and waiting for one give us the right look so we could follow him to a bush, bathroom, or apartment for sex. This practiced decreased after the AIDS crisis and has recently died thanks to Grindr.
Because I follow my own advice and have long since sworn off Sarah Lawrence boys, I used Grindr several times during my sophomore year. Several men set up encounters with me. An alleged Sarah Lawrence donor (but verified middle aged man) brought me back to his bougie Bronxville apartment to suck my cock and rub his dick between my feet; an Asian bodybuilder took me to his Chelsea pad for sex. During the hookups, I was aroused but felt nothing. I always ejaculated, but I could never orgasm with these strangers—I am a lover, not a fucker. At the end of last summer, I deleted Grindr from my iPhone and resolved to only sleep with boys I wanted to date or had spoken to for more than five minutes. I believed that the gay marriage movement and heterosexuals like Katy Perry had transformed gay culture into a heteronormative clone of the straight culture gay liberationist wanted to destroy, but I had also read enough gay novels to know where promiscuity has led many gay men who continue to sleep around with strangers, despite past traumas: to a sad place called nowhere.
Looking at ancient Roman buildings today, I thought about the consequence of this choice. I had not fucked anyone on my spring break eurotrip and I was bored. Museums are great and all, but I am twenty-one years old; a Monet painting is not going to swallow my cum, thank you very much. I wanted something crazy but more intimate than Grindr—in the past, my only tool for facilitating one-night-stands. I needed to stay in a city for more than five days to accomplish that.
So, when the hot Italian guy I spotted in a grocery store returned my glance and then followed me down the street, I considered running back to my hostel or screaming no thank you; but, because I am a David Wojnarowicz junkie and have read several sociological studies about cruising, I waited for him on the street corner. He smiled at me and then walked down an alley. I followed him.
In the alley, I found him beneath an umbrella, hiding from the rain. He placed his umbrella over my head.
“Hi,” I said.
“Do you speak English?” I asked.
“Are you top or bottom?” he asked in broken English.
“Me too. But you like to bottom more?”
I kissed him.
He giggled. “I’ll take that as a yes.”
We spoke for several minutes. He thought growing up in Miami made me classy, since his uncle lived in Tampa, the town that inspired Spring Breakers and hosted the last National Republican Convention. For a second I thought about how much I hated Grindr culture, but then I remembered Lizzie McGuire: the Movie and kept following him because this was so like Lizzie and that Italian guy before she ditched him for her true love, Gordo. This was fucking awesome.
Over a drink, he told me about how his boss was a bitch, and I told him vague details about my family. (I receive enough hate mail from people who read my online articles to know never to explain too much about my family to a guy I barely know.) The details were skimpy, but at least they were there—and way more complete than “masc4masc” or “fun/anal/oral/cum.” When you meet a guy in person instead of through a screen, you may lack a boner but you feel everything.
Boobies for Feminism: An Interview With SuicideGirls Founder Missy Suicide
Mitchell Sunderland ‘14
Publicists email me every few weeks offering me interviews with really silly people like sexologists that claim they have made “groundbreaking discoveries” such as, “People like to have sex.” I always delete these emails, but last month I received an email from the publicist for SuicideGirls. This month the infamous hot-girls-with-tattoos site releases its latest book, Hard Girls, Soft Light, which is available now on its online store.
I never cared about SuicideGirls, since, you know, I never jack off to photos of girls. But I wondered why SuicideGirls contacted a college best known for feminism and Barbara Walters. I responded to Nicole, the publicist in question, and she set up an interview with SuicideGirls founder Missy Suicide, who, predictably, grew up in Portland and attended Marlboro College. We talked about tits, feminism, and Lena Dunham—who apparently may as well be a SuicideGirl in disguise. Here’s our Q&A:
When did you become a SuicideGirl?
I feel like SuicideGirls are born, not made, but officially in 2001.
What were you like before SuicideGirls?
I have been dying my hair every color under the rainbow since I was 14. I think Portland was probably the best city to grow up in because it was big enough and in the 90′s seedy enough to get into some trouble but small enough that everyone knew who you were and wouldn’t let you get into real trouble. Portland has the most strip clubs AND book stores per capita in the US so that is what both SuicideGirls and I come from.
Why did you create SuicideGirls?
I started SuicideGirls nearly 12 years ago in the summer of 2001 in Portland, OR as a way to showcase the awesomeness of my friends; the pierced and tattooed girls who I thought were the most beautiful girls in the world. This was pre-Kat Von D and Ed Hardy madness. Tattoos were taboo and not nearly as ubiquitous as they are today. There were no social networking sites. I was sitting at a coffee shop with a friend talking about the state of the Internet and how much I missed my friends and projects that could have been. We were talking about how cool the girls were and how to display them, the idea struck to create a community around the girls. The rest is history.
How did SuicideGirls affect your sex life?
The confidence I have found over the years definitely has been a benefit. The more confident and comfortable you are with yourself and your body the better sex is going to be.
How has SuicideGirls changed over the years?
The site started with a few friends of mine modeling and now there are over 2,500 girls from around the world, every continent including Antarctica. It started as the girls that I thought were the hottest but now it is much more democratic. The community has grown exponentially, several hundred couples have met on the site and gotten married, dozens of babies were born because their parents met on SuicideGirls. The brand has grown to mean so much more to people than just a website. We just published our 3rd book of pin-up photos, we have our 4th movie airing on Showtime currently.
How does SuicideGirls empower women?
SuicideGirls is about confidence. The human form is beautiful; the nude female form is probably the most celebrated subject in all of art history yet we are so prudish here in the US that boobs are still taboo. Girls are raised to be so ashamed of their bodies and have so many hang ups surrounding their sexuality and figure. SuicideGirls affirms that every woman is beautiful. My hope for SuicideGirls is to show EVERY woman that she should have confidence in her body and herself including her sexuality even if she doesn’t fit the stereotypical narrow definition of beauty. Look at Beth Ditto or Lena Dunham or Clio Suicide.
Does SuicideGirls support feminism?
Women are sexual beings; it is a pretty important part of our humanity. To hide away our bodies and negate such a huge portion of our existence is flawed thinking in my opinion. We should be proud of all of the things that make us who we are and what we can bring to the table. We should celebrate our femininity and the strength that comes with that instead of suppressing it.
Why do you think your new book is important?
Depicting tattooed pinup girls in the soft glow of morning light is somewhat of a new concept. “Alternative” girls are typically depicted wearing heavy makeup, latex outfits, stiletto heels and only in the bright light of flash photography. By contrast, we wanted to show these unique beauties in a softer, more natural state.
How do you think the book will help readers?
I receive emails from girls every day that didn’t feel confident before finding out about SuicideGirls. All of the girls being celebrated in the media didn’t look like them. Since being introduced to SuicideGirls, their confidence has boosted. These are real girls with real personalities and real bodies inspiring other real girls.
Why did you contact a sex columnist at Sarah Lawrence?
Sarah Lawrence has a great reputation for forward thinkers and is a haven of feminine individualism.
Do you think liberal arts school students are more likely to become SuicideGirls? Why or why not?
People who attend liberal arts schools are more inclined to be open-minded and free-thinking. So, if the shoe fits.
Heteros That Kiss Homos: An Interview with a Self-Proclaimed “Sarah Lawrence Straight Guy”
Mitchell Sunderland ‘14
During my first semester at Sarah Lawrence, my girlfriends and I referred to the five heterosexual men we knew as the “Straight Boy Five.” When we returned from winter break, we saw the Straight Boy Five making out with each other on the floor. The next night, we saw them kissing gay men. The Straight Boy Five claimed they were “Sarah Lawrence straight.” “I’m just open, man,” one said. I’ve been unsure how to process “Sarah Lawrence straightness,” so I interviewed Daniel Hopen, the Sarah Lawrence straight guy I attended high school with, who I hooked up with at last year’s Spring Formal.
- Mitchell: In high school you spent your free time reading Tolstoy novels, masturbating, and posting Facebook statuses about masturbating. Has Sarah Lawrence changed this?
- Daniel: Since coming to Sarah Lawrence I have stopped posting statuses about masturbating, although I still masturbate a lot. Also, I read books that are more interesting than Tolstoy now. I think other people would have posted statuses about masturbating if they had the chance, people like William Burroughs.
- Isthere something political about posting a Facebook status about masturbating?
- When I did it, it was purely for the sake of shock value, though I can see how the urge to shock can be viewed as political.
- Do you kiss boys to shock people?
- I don’t do it to shock people. I don’t think about it at all. Like when I kissed you, you just aggressively kissed me, and I went along. I don’t kiss boys often. When I do, it’s usually cause I’m drunk and willing to try new things. I get into the attitude that nothing I do matters. Why not try something I don’t do very often?
- Do you enjoy kissing boys?
- It depends on the situation. When I was drunk in a bathtub with my friends (a boy and a girl), and we were all making out, I greatly enjoyed it.
- Did you enjoy kissing the girl more than the boy?
- Kissing her definitely turned me on a lot more, but it was all enjoyable.
- Has a male ever given you an erection?
- I don’t actually know. I’m thinking it must have happened at some point in my life, but I can’t think of any examples. Actually, when I met Toby Driver, one of my favorite musicians, he gave me a boner, but that might have just been general excitement.
- Do you see a difference between kissing boys when you’re drunk and being bisexual?
- Kissing boys could be a symptom of bisexuality,but it really depends on the individual. I feel like nobody is completely straight or completely gay and that manifests itself in different ways. Drunkenness certainly brings out the repressed parts of a person.
- Some girls I know kiss girls to impress boys. Have you ever kissed a boy to impress a girl?
- I’m embarrassed to say this, but, yeah, I can remember a night I did that. The details are very fuzzy, though.
- How would making out with a gay boy impress her?
- Good question. I’m not sure, but I do know that I ended up kissing her.
- Do you think girls in mainstream society would find this impressive, or is this an SLC phenomenon?
- I don’t think girls in mainstream society would find it impressive, but I think most girls here wouldn’t either.
- Why do you think some SLC straight guys won’t make out with boys? Some members of the gay community perceive their prudeness as repressed homosexual urges.
- I think the answer to that is pretty obvious: If they identify as straight guys, maybe they just legitimately aren’t attracted to guys. On the other hand, if they identify as straight, they’ve most likely been raised as straight and taught that making out with the same sex is simply something straight boys don’t do.
- Do you think the “Sarah Lawrence straight guy” culture should expand outside the bubble?
If straight guys outside the bubble do have repressed desires to make out with or fuck other dudes, then, yeah, it should expand. If that’s just a symptom of the existential confusion of Sarah Lawrence boys and straight men off-campus are legitimately happy with just pussy, then no.
- What about Sarah Lawrence has enabled you to ‘try anything’?
- It wasn’t anything about the school in general. First year everybody was just looking to do the most ridiculous things they possibly could. Freedom does that to you.
P.S. I really want this column to explore all sexual orientations and gender identities and not just revolve around the places my penis goes. (Lord knows we have enough sex columns about white dudes!) But I can only do this with your help. I’ve only received a few emails from students. I received several about girls’ mixed feelings about the Blue Room. I will discuss the Blue Room in the next column and would love to hear from you. If you want to see a particular issue discussed, email me at email@example.com. Sext you later!
I had anal sex for the first time last summer with a forty-seven year old half-Asian bodybuilder I met on Grindr. The one time I went home with a Sarah Lawrence boy, he tried to shove his unwrapped cock up my ass without my permission. I asked him to keep his dick away from my rectum; he asked me if I “needed another shot of vodka.”
My sex life is a disaster, yet I am writing a column about sex at Sarah Lawrence. Why on earth did the Phoenix Editor-in-Chief let this happen?
Because you are reading this on your plastic mattress in the New Dorms after your fuck buddy told you he or she does not want to date you, because he or she “doesn’t do labels.” Because you are eating at the pub and just realized every Sarah Lawrence student you have fucked is waiting in line for a focaccia sandwich. Because the guy you just made out with sucks cock—and you are too ashamed to talk about it.
Guess what, you do have a sex life “normal” people call weird … and so does your neighbor, roommate, and me. I might be at Oxford, but I go to Sarah Lawrence too—that is why I am writing this column once a month. No, I am not offering you advice. (The only thing I know about “healthy” sex is that I am not having any.) And no, I am not going to explain how to put a sweater on your sausage or saran wrap your lady-parts. (If you managed to gain acceptance to Sarah Lawrence, you should know how to have safe sex by now.) I am here to move our private conversations out of the Tea Haus and into the public eye. Being able to discuss our sex lives aloud in a blunt and frank manner—cum stains, tears, and mentally abusive roommate ménage a trios included—will normalize what shames us.
Over the next year, I will interview a boy that identifies as “Sarah Lawrence straight” (he makes out with boys yet considers himself hetero), a self-proclaimed gender queer sex expert, and ugly straight guys aware that they are never getting laid after graduation. I will investigate what happens after roommates sleep together, why it rocks to be a straight girl at the Blue Room, and the often overlooked divides within our LGBTQ community.
But in order to explore these topics, I will need your help. This is not a column about my sex life, after all. It is about our sex lives. I understand why talking to me about your sex life sounds like a bad idea—I am aware of my reputation on campus. Someone once referred to me as “someone who thinks he’s deliciously politically incorrect but is really just a hipster douche bag” in this very newspaper. Yes, my friends call me Bitchell, but I am not here to make fun of you. I will quote you anonymously—but I will always be honest. Do not believe me? Well, here are three humiliating experiences from my sex life at Sarah Lawrence starring me and some other people, but most of all ME:
*The third week of freshmen year I went to a Blue Room dance. Nobody showed up besides three other gay freshmen and a senior. The senior proceeded to make out with all of us all and invite us to join the swim team. I wanted to do something crazy at college (everyone else was shaving their heads and snorting blow), but I come from a long line of bald drug addicts so I joined the swim team instead.
*I swore I would not hookup with one of my three platonic gay friends, but then I drank a bottle of wine with one of them. Within an hour we were on my bed naked. Before I even sucked my friend’s cock, he came all over my chest. I had semen dripping from my belly button to my knees.
*See the first paragraph, where the hot guy I had a crush on turned into an asshole and tried to shove his unwrapped cock up my butt, although I told him I never have sex on the first date. I went on a date with him the day after this fiasco because I had no self-respect at the time.
See, I am not mean. I am just honest about everything, including the cum that dangled between my legs. So please, stop doing your conference work and e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org about your sex life, topics you would like me to explore, and any issues pertaining to this column. Sext you soon!